Breakfast Recipes, Main Course Recipes

Easter Menu Ideas

Celebrate Easter with some of my top recipes for brunch or dinner. Menu suggestions below!

Brunch Menu

Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

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Asparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Asparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette3

Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta

Spring Greens with Grilled Chicken, Strawberries, Avocado, and Feta

Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

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Dinner Menu

Zucchini Ribbon and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

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Lamb Shanks with Parmesan Polenta and Mushrooms

Lamb Shanks with Parmesan Polenta and Mushrooms

Kale Salad with Breadcrumb Croutons

kale salad 5

Meredith’s Classic Oatmeal Cookies

Meredith's Classic Oatmeal Cookies

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Breakfast Recipes

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

LemonRicottaPancakes

Why are these the pancakes that you’ll be making the next time you make pancakes?

Because lemon and ricotta is a delicious combination. Because you know you want to make a batch of pancakes that are a little bit different than the the normal ones. Because it’s been too long since you actually made pancakes. Because milk and cereal is, and has been, quite boring. Because you KNOW they’re going to be delicious. And, most importantly … because I told you to.

Extra fluffy with a creamier center. The ricotta cheese adds depth of flavor while also keeping the cakes light and fluffy. The lemon adds a refreshing citrus component. Nothing overpowering. Just right balance of flavor.

You’ll love the next batch of pancakes you make … because you’ll be making these.

LemonRicottaPancakesLemonRicottaPancake5LemonRicottaPancake4LemonRicottaPancake3

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Preheat a large skillet or griddle to medium-high heat.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined.
  3. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, ricotta, eggs, and vanilla until well blended.  Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and melted butter. Mix until combined.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated.
  5. Coat your griddle or skillet with melted butter.
  6. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto buttered griddle or skillet and cook until bubbles begin to appear on surface and the bottom is golden brown. Then, flip and cook opposite side until golden brown. Serve warm with a drizzle of maple syrup (and bacon … duh!)

Note: If serving a crowd, you can keep pancakes warm by placing them in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a preheated 200 degree F oven.  Don’t stack warm pancakes or they will become limp and soggy. They’ll hold in the oven at 200 degrees F for about 10 minutes.

LemonRicottaPancake1

Breakfast Recipes, Salads

Asparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette

Asparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette4

 

I have to give you an excuse for going over a month between blog posts.  Would you believe I spent the last month in French Polynesia, retracing the last years of impressionist painter Paul Gauguin?  I wouldn’t either. (I’ll save that for next year.)

How about the fact that my good friend, chef Mario Batali, and I finally fulfilled our mutual dream of culinarily sailing the entire Great Lakes.  We only ate the fish we caught.  We prepared and cooked it all on our 35 foot Catalina sailboat.  Never came in to port for a month. You buy that excuse? (At least that one was regional.)

Or, maybe … just maybe, I got engaged. Yup.  That one’s actually true!

Between the many celebrations, and an actual work conference (my blog isn’t my “job” … yet), my time for posting was a bit gobbled up.  Fear not, my friends.  I’m back in the kitchen.  Excelsior!

Onward and upward, indeed, with this dish.  My, oh my!  Asparagus, hard boiled egg, and bacon … a match made in heaven. (See what I did there? He, he. I couldn’t resist.)  When tossed with a Dijon vinaigrette, this heavenly match becomes even more divine.

When asparagus is in season, buy fresh from the market and use within a day or two.  When asparagus is not in season, easily substitute green beans.  I typically keep hard boiled eggs on hand for an easy grab and go snack.  Thus, this salad comes together in a jiffy.  The minimal ingredient list makes this recipe inexpensive to put together.  A low carb, high protein, gluten-free breakfast / lunch for two.  Cooking for two just got a whole lot easier and a whole lot more meaningful 😉

Asparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon VinaigretteAsparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette1Asparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette2Asparagus, Egg and Bacon Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette4

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends discarded and cut on a bias into bite size pieces (substitute green beans in off season)
  • 2-4 hard boiled eggs (how to cook hard boiled eggs), sliced into thirds and seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and drain on a paper towel.  Once cooled, crumble into small pieces.
  2. Discard all but 1 tbsp of bacon grease from skillet. Return skillet to medium heat and add asparagus.  Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until tender.
  3. Prepare vinaigrette by whisking together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Divide the asparagus onto 2 plates. Top each plate with equal amounts of crumbled bacon and hard boiled egg slices.  Drizzle with dressing and serve.

Servings: 2

Breakfast Recipes

Sausage and Veggie Breakfast Strata

Sausage and Veggie Breakfast Strata

 

What’s my key to hosting brunch, you ask?

Everything’s made and prepped in advance.

With this in mind, here’s my go-to brunch recipe – Sausage and Veggie Breakfast Strata.  This dish inherently abides by my “made in advance” rule.  You’re literally SUPPOSED to make and prepare it the night before.  For those unfamiliar with the strata, it’s a savory bread pudding consisting mostly of bread, cheese, and eggs.  My recipe includes sausage and veggies.  The addition of cottage cheese provides a slightly creamy texture.  Hearty and well balanced.  All inclusive … bread, eggs, meat, cheese, veg … all in one dish.

Sausage and Veggie Breakfast StrataSausage and Veggie Breakfast StrataSausage and Veggie Breakfast Strata

 

So it’s the morning of.  All you have to do is roll out of bed, brew coffee, set out bloody mary fixins, turn on the oven, and enjoy.

You’ve got brunch questions.  I’ve got brunch answers.  Simple, tasty answers.

Sausage and Veggie Breakfast Strata

 

Ingredients:

  • Butter, for greasing baking dish
  • 1 loaf day-old Italian bread, crust removed and cut into 1 inch cubes (about 6 cups cubed)
  • 1 lb sweet breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled into pieces
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained of excess moisture
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cups fontina cheese, freshly grated
  • A small handful fresh basil, torn into pieces (about 1/4 cup)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 cups half and half (or milk if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Butter a 9×13 inch casserole dish, set aside, and reserve.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cubed bread, cooked sausage, spinach, bell peppers, fontina cheese, and fresh basil.  Toss together well until evenly distributed.  Pour mixture into buttered casserole dish.
  3. In another bowl (I used a large measuring cup) whisk eggs until blended.  Add the half and half, cottage cheese, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  Whisk until smooth, then pour over bread mixture in the casserole dish. (Note, not all of the bread will be covered at this point with the egg mixture. This is fine. As the casserole rests, it will absorb the eggs and become covered.)
  4. Cover the strata/casserole and refrigerate for a few hours or preferably overnight (up to 18 hours).
  5. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Let rest.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and bake the strata/casserole, covered, for 45 minutes.  Remove cover and cook an additional 15 minutes until custard has set and the top is golden brown.  After 1 hour of cooking, if the custard has not set, return the casserole to the oven for another 10 minutes.
  6. Allow casserole to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Servings: 12

Breakfast Recipes

My Favorite Morning Smoothie

My Favorite Morning Smoothie

I should trademark this phrase. ‘My Favorite Morning Smoothie.’  It’ll undoubtedly be the upcoming title of a new band,  a popular song, or political podcast.  Alas, for now, it shall be the modest title of my most recent post. (Don’t any of you go stealing it!)

In addition to being low in calories and high in vitamin C, strawberries and raspberries are high in fiber.  Banana adds a wonderful depth of flavor and an extra boost of potassium.  Yogurt is added for a creamy texture and a bit of protein. Fresh orange juice gives the wonderfully subtle tang.  Both fresh or frozen fruit can be used.  I prefer frozen, adding a nice thickness.  I adore this recipe.  If you use all frozen fruits, you may need to add a bit of milk or water.  If you use all fresh fruit, you may need to add a bit of ice.

Now you can be that person.  You know where “My Favorite Morning Smoothie”  actually originated.  It came from Emily Always Cooks!

My Favorite Morning SmoothieMy Favorite Morning Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 10 strawberries (hulled), fresh of frozen
  • 1/4 cup raspberries, fresh of frozen
  • 1 banana, fresh of frozen, cut into thirds
  • The juice of 1 whole blood orange
  • 1/2 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 tbsp of water or milk, if needed
  • Ice, if needed

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in your blender.  Blend on high for 45 seconds or until smooth and creamy.  Add additional liquid or ice if needed.  Note: If you use all frozen fruits, you may need to add a bit of milk or water.  If you use all fresh fruit, you may need to add a bit of ice.

Servings: 1 (Serving Size: 2 full cups)

Thank you Driscolls for sponsoring this post.

Breakfast Recipes

Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Compote (and warm maple syrup and bacon)

Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

 

A classic recipe.  A memorable twist on it.

You didn’t know National Blueberry Pancake Day existed, did you?  No, I didn’t make this day up … someone else did.  That said, I’m more than happy to celebrate.  I’m also more than happy to show you a fantastically simple, not-so-typical, blueberry pancake recipe.

I’m also quite hungry …

Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

 

Using a combination of all-purpose flour and yellow cornmeal gives these cakes a very nice unique texture.  Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Top these cakes with homemade blueberry compote and warm maple syrup.  This luscious blueberry compote is made with just 5 simple ingredients – blueberries, sugar, blood orange, cornstarch, and vanilla.  So very easy to throw together while you’re preparing the rest of the meal … ahem, frying up your bacon.

Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

 

There’s something special about a day that begins with pancakes. There’s something extra special about these.  Happy National Blueberry Pancake Day!.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups (scant) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (heaping) yellow cornmeal, I like Bob’s Red Mill Medium Grind
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen could also be used)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh squezed orange juice (I used blood orange juice)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch, mixed with 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 (scant) tsp orange zest
  • Butter, for cooking and serving
  • Pure maple syrup (warmed), for serving

Instructions:

  1. Mix together flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine milk, eggs, and vanilla.
  3. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Stir ingredients to just combined, then stir in melted butter. If batter is overly thick, splash in a small amount of milk.  Set aside for 10 minutes. Stir again.
  4. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine blueberries, water, sugar, and orange juice. Bring to a low boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  While whisking, slowly add cornstarch and water mixture.  Continue to whisk making sure not to crush too many of the blueberries until sauce is nice and thick, about 5 additional minutes.  Add vanilla extract and orange zest, stir to combine, and reserve.  (Note: I like my blueberry sauce warm when spooned over the cakes, so keep warm over very low heat until ready to serve.)
  5. Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet or griddle over medium-low heat.  When evenly heated, drop 1/4 cup batter per pancake and cook until golden brown on both sides.  I like to cook these cakes on a cast iron griddle to give them a crispy top layer.  Once fully cooked, remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Stack pancakes, top with a pat of butter, a drizzle with warm maple syrup, and a spoonful of blueberry sauce over the top.  Serve immediately when cakes are still warm.

Cornmeal Cake recipe slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Thank you Driscolls for sponsoring this post.

Breakfast Recipes, Main Course Recipes

Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

So, here we go with the 100th recipe post on EmilyAlwaysCooks.  It’s been one heck of a yummy ride, and I’m already looking forward to post number 200.

Quite befitting a make-ahead holiday recipe.  Rich and savory custard, flecked with smoked salmon, goat cheese, dill, and leeks with a buttery crust base.  I have no problem serving this for any meal at any time of the day.  I kept to tradition by serving this quiche at room temperature or just slightly warmer.  Quiche will stay at room temperature for up to 2 hours.  After 2 hours it should be refrigerated.   To reheat quiche, bring to room temperature then bake in a 325 degree F oven for 15 minutes.

Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche
Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

If you’re making homemade pie crust for a holiday pie, just double the recipe.  I’ve included my favorite homemade pie crust recipe in the ingredient list below.  It uses both butter and shortening which creates a flaky, slightly buttery crust.  Don’t be intimidated to make your own crust. It’s pretty simple.  That said, Store-bought pie crust can be a serious life saver.  Either way you slice it, it’s a winner.  (See what I did there?  Sorry, I had gone too long between obviously cheesy puns.)

Smoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese QuicheSmoked Salmon, Dill, and Goat Cheese Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 homemade pie crust (you will only use half of this recipe) or store-bought pie crust, if using store bought thaw according to package directions (If I’m using store-bought crust, I like Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust.)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 leek thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4-6 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
  • 5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. If using homemade dough, prepare and roll out into a 12-inch circle. If using store-bought dough, thaw first according to package directions and unroll (dough should be about 11 ounces).
  2. Place it into a 10-by-1 1/2-inch round tart pan, pressing dough into corners.  Line pastry with parchment paper that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, pressing into the corners and edges.  Fill at least two-thirds with baking weights (you can use dried beans, rice, or ceramic or metal pie weights).
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. Carefully remove parchment paper and weights. Poke the bottom of the pie pan with the tongs of a fork (fork holes are for any air to escape) and return to oven.  Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until just golden.  Place on a wire rack to cool while making filling.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
  4. Heat butter in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the leek, a pinch of salt, and cook until translucent (3-5 minutes). Add garlic and cook one additional minute.  Remove from heat and reserve.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, dill, lemon zest, and black pepper.
  5. Line the bottom of the quiche crust with cooked leeks and garlic.  Put one layer down of half the smoked salmon and goat cheese.  Pour half of the egg mixture over the salmon and goat cheese in the quiche shell.  Layer down the remaining salmon and goat cheese, and pour the remaining egg mixture over it.  (Note: You may have a small amount of egg mixture remaining depending on the size of your tart pan. either discard or reserve for a later use.) Hint, make mini frittatas.
  6. Bake until quiche is just set in the center, about 30 to 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Servings: 6

Note: Reheat by covering quiche with aluminum foil and bake at 325 degrees F for about 15 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.